Kowuor Central Village Youth Group, based in Ahero Sub-County of Kenya’s Kisumu County has been named the winner of a brand-new John Deere 5050D tractor.
The group won the tractor in a business plan competition sponsored through a joįnt collaboration of AGRA, American agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere, and its dęaler Mascor Kenya Limited.
Kowuor Central Village Youth Group beat 85 other groups in the contest, which required participants to have been registered in Kenya with involvement in agriculture for at least three years. The applicants had to submit a business plan outlining how they will use the tractor to run a mechanization business.
The competition, targeting groups with members aged 18 – 35 years, was part of AGRA’s plan to popularize agricultural mechanization services in Kenya.
“Kowuor Central Village Youth Group’s business plan stood out because it outlined a clear strategy for transforming the tractor into a profitable business, all while increasing the uptake of mechanization in their region,” said AGRA’s Kenya Country Manager, John Macharia.
John Deere’s Divisional Sales Manager for East Africa and the Middle East, Nel Stephan, added: “Kowuor Central Village Youth Group met all the criteria for a win with a clear articulation of their growth plan through the next five years and beyond. Theirs is a social enterprise with clear benefits for members and their community.”
Mr Macharia emphasized the need for African countries to promote agricultural mechanization, which is a key food system growth driver but has been slow to develop. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania had the same number of tractors as India in 1960, but the East African countries failed to keep up the pace in uptake with the latter now having 100 times more tractors in use.
“Africa’s agriculture sector is the least mechanized in the world, partly due to the local unavailability of tractors and other implements, as well as inadequate financing. Working through youth agri-SMEs, some mechanization services can be availed closer to where they are required,” he said.
Kowuor Central Village Youth Group’s chairperson, Dickens Muga, said the tractor will help transform their business by increasing their capacity to serve more farmers.
“We already have an existing clientele but have been unable to serve them due to a lack of adequate machinery. It would have taken us quite some time to buy a new tractor out of our profits, and we see this winning as critical in taking our business to the next level,” he said.
Kisumu’s County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Gilchrist Owuor Okuom highlighted the critical role of mechanization in increasing efficiency and productivity in crop production. He reiterated the significance of mechanization in onboarding more Youth into the Agriculture space. He described the initiative as a milestone in his government’s efforts to avail mechanization services to all farmers.
He proposed that his Department would have Kowuor Central Village Youth Group as the County’s Mechanization Champions and pledged to help build the capacity of the leadership of the Group in how to profitably use the tractor. He thanked John Deere and AGRA for the initiative and appealed to other partners and entrepreneurs to come up and help fill in the gap by offering mechanization services across Kisumu County.
The John Deere AGRA competition follows a recent partnership between AGRA and John Deere to support successful mechanization service providers based on the John Deere SMART Model. Under the partnership, AGRA supports SMEs in acquiring business skills and financial management for growth, whilst John Deere, through its dęaler network (including Mascor), supports in operator training, technician development, after-sales services, and equipment financing.